Questions About FMCSA’s Newly-Revised Hours-of-Service
Rules Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of March 2012)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on February 14, 2012.
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REVISED HOURS-OF-SERVICE RULES
As most of you already know, the FMCSA recently passed “final rules” regarding the hours-of-service (HOS). Many of our readers have already begun to ask questions about these new rules, most of which do not even take effect until July 2013. The only changes that begin immediately on February 27, 2012 are new rules regarding Part 386 – Penalty Schedule; stiffer fines and penalties for egregious offenders of the HOS regulations. In light of these new rules, we here at “Ask The Law” will spend the next few months discussing some of the more pertinent changes to help you better understand them. Since there have been no official interpretations made to these published rules yet, it will be more difficult to explain them in short answers. As you can see here, this month only has one question and answer, but it is a good one. In the following months, we will continue answering your questions to help clarify these new rules before they take effect. To read all of the “new” hours-of-service rules, go to www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
THE NEW 34-HOUR RESTART PROCESS
Q: Has any of your people come up with how the latest 34-hour restart process will work with the new hours-of-service rules? I am also confused about the new mandatory rest periods between the hours of 1am and 5am. Please help us with these questions. We teach and require all of our students to keep a logbook the entire time they are in our school. We need to be able to make this as clear as we can for them. Thank you in advance for your time and help – Colleen in North Carolina
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: Before I get off into explaining the new HOS, let me explain that compliance with the new HOS requirements does not occur until July 1, 2013. So, everyone will have more than a year to study and understand how the new regulations will work and their effects. Now, on to your question. The new 34-hour reset can be used once every 168 hours, that’s equivalent to 7 days. The new regulations do not prohibit a driver from taking more than one 34-hour rest period, but the driver must select which 34-hour period they intend to use to reset their 60/70-hour clock and it has to occur once every 168 hours. The 34-hour reset must include two rest periods between the hours of 1am and 5am. A driver should not start a 34-hour reset prior to 7pm or later than 1am to minimize the number of hours needed to equal the 34 hours. Any driver who starts their reset period before 7pm or after 1am will need to take extra hours off to get the two required rest periods completed between 1am and 5am.
Example #1: The driver is home every weekend. The driver starts his/her work week at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. The driver had 34 consecutive hours off prior to starting. Under the new HOS rules, the driver would not be eligible to use the 34-hour reset for two weeks. Remember, the driver can only use one 34-hour restart to reset their 60/70-hour clock once every 168 hours. Since the driver arrives back home and goes off duty prior to the completion of the 168 hours, the driver is not prohibited from taking another 34 hours off, but it will not count towards zeroing out their 60/70-hour clock and the driver now must tack their daily hours on the recap. The driver must show the very first 34-hour reset as the reset being used to zero out their 60/70-hour clock.
Example #2: The driver doesn’t get home every weekend. The driver leaves their residence at 3pm on Sunday afternoon after completing a 34-hour reset. The driver stays out on the road and on Sunday (7 days later) afternoon, at 7pm, they decide to stop and start a 34-hour reset. The driver is off until 5pm on Tuesday afternoon before starting their next tour of duty. The driver has just completed a 34-hour reset and has zeroed their 60/70-hour clock. Now, the driver must wait until sometime after the next Tuesday (again 7 days later) to start another 34-hour reset period in order to zero out their 60/70-hour clock.
Drivers who are home every weekend will only be able to use the 34-hour reset once every two weeks, while the driver who stays out on the road will be able to utilize the 34-hour reset more on a regular basis once every 7 days (168 hours).
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted© by Ol’ Blue, USA. Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on February 14, 2011.